Seiko’s Micro Artist Studio, which has produced such notable timepieces as the Spring Drive Minute Repeater and Credor Sonnerie, is located in the city of Shiojori in central Japan’s Nagano Prefecture. In 2016, the Studio released the first Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8-Day Power Reserve watch in a platinum case. For this week’s Watch to Watch, we spotlight the newest version, announced at this year’s Baselworld, which contains the same Spring Drive caliber as the original but in an 18k rose gold case and featuring a black, star-dappled dial said to be inspired by the night sky in the mountains that surround the Studio.
Inside the 43.mm-diameter case, and under a box-shaped sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating, the black dial of the new Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve appears sprinkled with stardust, the result of a special process that combines plating and painting. The sparkling, night-sky effect is enhanced by the five-faceted hands and hour markers, which are razor-edge-polished and have been given a mirrored finish by means of Seiko’s Zaratsu polishing technique, achieved by holding the case against a rotating tin plate at a very precise angle. The rose-gold case measures a modest 13.2 mm in diameter and is water-resistant to 100 meters.
In a rare feat, Grand Seiko’s watchmakers have managed to evoke the night over central Japan on both the front and back of the watch. Visible behind the sapphire caseback is Seiko’s manual-winding Spring Drive Caliber 9R01, with its unusual one-piece bridge and a back-facing, hand-type power-reserve indicator that records the movement’s impressive 192 hours (eight days) of running autonomy. According to Seiko, this type of bridge ensures for the precise positioning of each wheel in the gear train and maximizes the efficiency of the energy transmitted from the barrels. Its more rigid design, Seiko says, also helps to minimize distortion in the event of shocks or impacts to the watch. Visually — whether by coincidence or by design — the polished rubies and tempered blue screws are evocative of the lights of the city of Suwa, as viewed from the Seiko Micro Artist Studio’s headquarters in the mountains, and the shape of the bridge calls to mind the outline of Japan’s Mount Fuji.
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve (Ref. SBGD202) is offered on a brown crocodile leather strap with a push-button-releasing, triple-folding clasp made of 18k rose gold. Available in September 2017, the watch is priced at $42,000.